Home Read Classic Album Review: Silverchair | Diorama

Classic Album Review: Silverchair | Diorama

Daniel Johns & co. add some Brian Wilson orch-pop to their Kurt Cobain grunge.

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This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


A few years ago, it seemed like Silverchair’s Daniel Johns wanted to be Kurt Cobain when he grew up. Well, now it appears he wants to be Brian Wilson.

That’s the only sensible conclusion one can draw after hearing Across the Night, the opening track of his Australian post-grunge trio’s fourth album Diorama. A glorious orch-pop ode boasting both the sunshine melancholy of The Beach Boys’ mastermind and the grand, swelling string arrangements of frequent Wilson collaborator Van Dyke Parks, Across the Night is one of several orchestra-laced cuts here that make it patently clear where the 22-year-old singer and guitarist’s songwriting aspirations lie these days.

Then again, the searing guitar riffs and quiet-loud dynamics of tracks like One Way Mule, The Greatest View and Without You make it just as obvious that he still hasn’t fully outgrown the Nirvava-inspired grunge that defined his power trio’s early hits. And while he’s able to combine them effectively much of the time, in general, Diorama sticks closer to the ambitious path established on the group’s 1999 album Neon Ballroom than the chugging power of Frogstomp. Thankfully, for the most part it succeeds gloriously, as Johns slowly but surely divests himself of his teenage angst and dark worldview in favour of songs that paint in colour and seek a path to the light at the end of the tunnel. If he keeps following Wilson’s lead instead of Cobain’s, he just might find it.